Over the past ten years we’ve had a regular conversation about my parents’ eventual demise and what happens to everything. They’re comfortably off. I struggle to say rich although that’s probably accurate. My father would say he’s careful with his money and has always planned well and been prudent.
He also disapproves of paying taxes on money he’s already paid tax on when he earned it and has gone to some considerable lengths to minimise these concerns at my parents’ eventual demise. Every time his situation changes or there are changes in law he re-considers it all and then tells us all in precise detail exactly what he’s doing.
I stop myself from saying I wish he would spend as much time and care in leaving a positive relationship with his children behind when he dies. That’s not a conversation that is going to go anywhere at all.
What he wants is to know that his money will enable 1sis and myself to buy our homes. It won’t. We both live in council homes in London and even with whatever council discounts are available at the time, it still won’t be enough. I did try to explain this to him once, suggesting the most efficient plan was to buy somewhere now and rent it out so at least the money was on the housing ladder, regardless of whose name it was in but he wasn’t interested. Partly because he has no financial interest in this country and didn’t want to start. Partly because I don’t think he actually got it.
Well on Saturday, he gave 1sis and I both copies of his current plan. The last plan was that we were going to get a quarter each, as Napoleonic law demands, and the fourth quarter would be divided between the grandchildren. That quarter has gone down to a fifth, with the remaining 2/5 to the grandchildren. Since I read it after his visit I haven’t had time to ask why the change and I’m not sure whether I need to. It does mean my children and I get more money than before.
I have also, over the years, refrained from suggesting that 2sis is so comfortably off, including their ability to provide for their children that disbursal shouldn’t be even. It galls me somewhat that my brother in law has been able to pay for his two children’s university fees (so far) so that they don’t start life burdened with debt. I agree with the sentiment but am also mildly jealous (but my children are so much nicer than his…)
My father is also desperately hopeful that one of his grandchildren will take over his home, which is left to us three sisters jointly. I think that’s a recipe for disaster as whoever took it on would have to financially compensate the others and that is unlikely to happen. Whether anyone would be in a position to be able to, let alone to want to at the time is a huge unknown. And again, his home is not his legacy and shouldn’t be.
1sis took the opportunity of Saturday’s visit to discuss what would happen to the contents. Not that she wants a vast quantity of them but she wanted to make sure they went to a good home. We started off discussing the books of which there are several thousand. All I could suggest was contacting English speaking universities and groups and offering them. Nobody was going to ship them to England. This lead off into a long conversation about who wants what and who’s going to sort it out.
2sis, who at least lives in the same country as my parents, has been made executor in this latest plan. I understand the logic but don’t actually trust her at all. 1sis accused me of “not giving a shit” when I wasn’t enthusiastic about sorting out the books. I pointed out that money earned from the sale of any household effects would be in direct proportion to the amount of time spent sorting it out and I wasn’t going to and would she like to spend time doing it?
It’s really hard to disentangle my emotions on this. I resent greatly the effort put into the financial and practical distribution of what will be left of my parents’ life compared to the lack of emotional residue. I am seriously not sure whether I am going to feel more than marginally upset when either of them die. So part of my reason for not showing interest in the contents is due to rejection of that whole ethos.
Also however I was really hurt by the outcome of my grandmother’s death when 2sis bought the house, with which I had no problem, but as a result kept all the contents as well whereas I was hoping to take a few keepsakes from my grandmother whom I loved greatly. It took a year for me to explain this to my parents and when they eventually got it they just shrugged their shoulders of it.
I don’t want to get emotionally invested in the things. Do we all need to meet up and go round my parents’ home registering interest? I haven’t been there in five years or so and I don’t feel an emotional affinity with the place. Souvenirs I would want? A few books, maybe some of my mother’s jewellery, a set of glasses perhaps. That is all that springs to mind.
It all just serves to make me angry, which is why I am reluctant to discuss disposal compared to my sister’s passion for these things not to be wasted, even though she doesn’t want them. And this conversation is going to keep going on until they are both dead at which point there will be some angry resolution. I should add that we three sisters haven’t been in the same room since my (other) grandmother’s death several years ago.